Developing a Critical Eye, Constructive Criticism and Quality Assurance

Roles and Responsibilities
Council of Science Editors
Outlines the roles and responsibilities of scientific journal editors.

Responsibilities of the Newsletter Editor
Society for Technical Communication
List of expectations of newsletter editors for the society.

Editor’s Column
Payne, R.M. (1998). Journal of Souther Religion, Louisiana State University
Describes the work of an editor, provides guidelines, and references.

How to Establish an Association Editorial Board for a New Periodical
McHugh, J.B. (2010). Publishing Management Consultant
Outlines a process for establishing a board.

Conflict of Interest Guidelines
The American Society for Nutrition
Outlines expectations, conflicts of interest that may arise, and what to do in case of a conflict of interest for authors, reviewers and editors of its journals.

Critical Reviews
The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin Madison
How to write a review of a non-fiction book or article.

How to Review
Bieber, M., New Jersey Institute of Technology
Guide for refereeing conference and journal articles, with the philosophy that the review process benefits the author as much as the editor.

Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future
Harley, D., Krzys Acord, S., & Earl-Novel, S. (April, 2010)
Drafts of four working papers as part of the Future of Scholarly Communication Project.

Scholarship is Changing, So Must Tenure Review
Hurtado, S. & Sharkness, J. (September / October, 2008). Academe Online
The survival of the tenure process largely depends on the capacity to develop review processes that recognize emerging forms of scholarship.

The Shelter of Tenure is Eroding and for Faculty of Color Gaining Membership May be Tougher than Ever
Ruffins, P. (October, 1997). Black Issues in Higher Education
Indicates many of the issues that faculty of color face in higher education.

Reviewer / Referee / Editor

Purpose of review
The purpose of peer review is to examine the work of a scholar through review by other experts in the same field. The process is common for studies, articles, grant proposals, programs and accreditation proceedings.  It is an integral part of scholarship, and serves as a system of checks and balances to ensure quality and integrity of academic endeavors.  Participation in the review process is a common form of service for faculty members, and accomplished faculty members seek opportunities to engage in review activities.  More detail about and history of the peer review process is outlined in the Scholarly Research – Peer Review section of the Community Commons.

Grant or Conference proposal reviewer
Although scholarly research, writing up findings, and presenting or publishing those findings is an integral part of the work of a faculty member, they take a tremendous amount of time and energy.  As a result it is expected that faculty members will apply for grants to release them from other responsibilities and pursue their research agenda.  Each grant involves construction of a proposal based on an RFP or request for proposal prepared by the granting agency that outlines the expectations and guidelines to follow.  Often faculty members serve on committees to review such proposals and make decisions about which projects to fund.  Similarly professional conferences have RFP’s that outline the sorts of papers / presentations they invite proposals for, and faculty members serve on committees to review the proposals and determine which individuals will present at the conference.  New faculty members should seek out opportunities to serve the profession in this way, building a reputation and honing a critical eye for quality work.

Brochure / newsletter editor
There are many audiences for research findings, and multiple purposes for communicating what a course, program, school, college or campus has to offer.  Since scholarly journals are primarily aimed at scholars working in the discipline of focus, many departments, programs, colleges, or campuses develop more informal newsletters, brochures, or public relations materials for a broader audience.  These publications may assist in recruitment of students, help explain the commitments of scholars to particular issues for potential donors, or communicate with the community about expertise of benefit to practitioners or other community members.  Examples may include education research findings that offer insights to K-12 teachers, public health findings that offer strategies to community health organizations, or agricultural findings that offer innovations to local farmers.  Whatever the purpose or purposes of these informal publications, often faculty members serve as reviewers or editors so that the information is up to date, accurate, and articulated effectively.  New faculty members may be interested in participating in this sort of review for existing materials, or even imagine the sorts of materials that might be effective in their discipline area when none currently exist.

Article, journal, chapter or book reviewer
An important part of the tenure process is publication of articles in scholarly journals. Each article, chapter or book is put through a rigorous process of anonymous review that relies on the service of thousands of faculty members.  It is part of the professional obligation of a faculty member to engage in this review process, and the level of responsibility and quality of publication should gradually increase with experience and tenure.  New faculty members might begin by learning about the process, familiarizing themselves with publication and review guidelines, and seeking mentors who serve in this capacity to begin development of an appropriate level of expertise in critique.

Editorial boards
There are countless means of publishing, sharing, going public with our work as academics.  The variety of journals from scholarly to trade and practitioner, the growing array of online archives and websites, and the numerous informal newsletters and brochures often have editorial boards.  This group of individuals often represents various viewpoints, perspectives, and institutions.  They meet regularly to discuss the way the publication is laid out, set policy about what issues or themes to use to frame upcoming issues, to design or redesign publications, and make final decisions about which approved pieces to run and when.  The more prestigious the publication, the more esteemed the editorial board.  New faculty members who aspire to such board positions need to be strategic about publishing in the appropriate places, including those they hope to work for in the future.  They should work hard on developing a pattern of using their expertise to serve as a reviewer for increasingly well known publications. 

Archive editor
While current publications offer a sliver of the work currently going on in a field, only a fraction of what is happening on campuses is included in the discipline.  For a more comprehensive look at the literature in a field there are archives of previously published materials, and some are hard to find gems that for one reason or another haven’t surfaced recently.  For a broader look at the trends, history or full body of work in a field it is helpful to utilize these archives, which are similarly governed by boards and overseen by editors.  This type of service may help new faculty members become critical reviewers while at the same time familiarizing them with the broad array of work in their field.

Peer review committee member
An integral part of the tenure process involves peer review.  On some campuses it is a multilevel process, involving department or college level review followed by a university review process.  Others have different configurations.  Whatever the process details, faculty members are asked to review the body of work completed by their colleagues in order to determine if the scope, pattern of accomplishment, and depth of their work warrants retention, tenure or promotion.  The process differs among campuses and even among departments on the same campus, but basically involves review of a personnel file prepared by the individual under review.  Typically there is a personal statement outlining the body of work accomplished, accompanied by a notebook or file of evidence to support the claims made in the personal statement, including a CV and specific evidence chosen according to guidelines outlined in the tenure / promotion documents provided to each candidate for tenure.  New faculty members should expect that after they complete the process themselves, they will be asked to serve for the colleagues coming up behind them.

External review teams
Program evaluation is a critical process that provides accountability for the quality and appropriateness of curriculum and instruction at a campus.  Periodic reviews of campuses as part of accreditation requires the formation of teams with expertise in the disciplinary fields under review.  Faculty members serve an important role on such teams, traveling to campuses, meeting with key personnel, and reviewing key documents to assess the outcomes of each program systematically.

Possible questions to ask about being a Reviewer / Referee / Editor:

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